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Monday, February 20, 2023

Weber work truck
In Friday's message we shared about my dad as an illustration of one who built a good reputation. He ran a small business in Belton, Missouri and my sister Genelle shared this photo of him in his work truck in front of the business taken about 1960.

"A Lack Of Knowledge"

Message summary: "With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:104,105).

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). “'The days are coming,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD'" (Amos 8:11).

We are studying the Minor Prophets in our Crossroads Adult Bible Fellowship (Sunday School Class). I am part of a rotation of older teachers, though at 68, I'm quick to point out to readers that I am the youngest, with the oldest being in his early 80's, but this won't be for long. Most of us come from ministry backgrounds, including a missionary and Bible College teacher. I think we all want to stay active in our service for the Lord as long as we are able, and we enjoy the various perspectives and styles each teacher brings. Yesterday Dennis, a retired missionary to Nigeria, taught on Hosea.

Reading and studying the Minor Prophets can be a tough slog but they are included in the Holy Scriptures "which are able to make us wise unto salvation" (2 Timothy 3:15). The best method of Bible study and teaching is exposition, considering the text verse by verse, including the hard verses.

But I also find value in searching for the gems among the text, those passages that stand out and are easier to understand and apply. These are the kind of verses that we often tend to highlight as we read. Today let us consider two gems from the Minor prophets, one from Hosea and the other from Amos.

Consider the increasing dearth of Bible knowledge in our age. There is a spiritual famine when it comes to hearing, learning and knowing the Holy Scriptures! Woodrow Kroll, who for many years was the main teacher on a radio program called "Back to the Bible", shared a powerful message from the book of Hosea regarding seven signs of a nation that is in trouble. One of the signs is a lack of knowledge concerning God's Word, using the texts we have selected for today's devotional. He went on to illustrate the dearth of Bible knowledge in our age.

Our first verse is "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). The prophet Hosea served God from about 755-725 BC. His message was largely rejected, but he remained faithful and obedient to God in spite of some rather unusual commands which especially makes the book enigmatic.

"Destroyed" likely refers to the impending judgment by the Assyrians but in a broader sense it can apply to any nation or individual.

Knowledge in this case is knowledge of God and His Word. The problem was not a lack of available knowledge but a rejection of applying that knowledge (note the context).

Even the apostate Northern Kingdom under the very wicked Jeroboam 2 had a witness for truth and the knowledge of God through prophets like Hosea, but the people rejected it. In our day a witness for God and His truth continues to be proclaimed, but by and large this vitally important knowledge and truth is being rejected. Currently there are growing attempts to silence it. Thus we are seeing and will continue to see the consequences of this rejection.

There are those who are ignorant because of a lack of access to knowledge of the truth. They have not yet heard God's message of salvation. That remains the great commission of the church. We were so pleased that Brooksyne's cousin and his family from Springfield, MO departed for Papua New Guinea in October last year to serve as missionaries reaching the unreached in that part of the world.

Then there are those who are ignorant because they have access but they choose to ignore or reject the knowledge of the truth that is available to them. That is the case with so many here in America and in many other places. Psalm 53:1 tells us that the fool has reasoned within himself that there is no God.

Our second text is observable all around us, “'The days are coming,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD'" (Amos 8:11).

Today, as God's chosen people, let us make this verse our earnest prayer, "With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:104,105).

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path. I don't want to be destroyed for lack of knowledge nor do I want to be caught up in sin due to my disobedience to Your commands. I want to feast daily on the spiritual manna provided by Your Scriptures. Where there is spiritual famine, even among those who do believe, we pray for revival so that men and women, boys and girls begin to hunger for that which is of eternal worth. Stir us all into action as we are spurred on by Your directives in Scripture, and Your Spirit that is at work in us. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Bible knowledge test   For those, like me, who enjoy tests!

Additional study note: Most of our knowledge of the Bible has been gleaned from many years of exposure to its truths through personal reading, study, devotionals, sermons, etc. Although we are both very thankful for our Bible College years and the "formal" education we received (as well as being the place we met), most of what we know was acquired incrementally all through life through being exposed to God's Word. For many of us it began as children in Sunday School and VBS. (Neither of us had children's ministries like "Children's Church" or midweek youth group, Bible quiz and so forth.) We didn't have videos or many other aids used to teach children these days. All though our adult lives we have purposefully sought to grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, mostly in small incremental ways.

We desire that these daily encouragement messages be one of these small incremental sources that God is using in your life to increase your knowledge of His Word.

This exposure principle is expressed in Hebrews 5:12-14: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."  The words "constant practice" in this verse illustrate the exposure principle.

The same is true of God's Word. Although we have purposefully sought to memorize many verses through the years, much of what we know is through habitual exposure (constant practice in Hebrews 5:14). Let us daily fill our lives with regular exposure to God's Word followed by application of its truths as we also receive assurance from its promises! Then we can proclaim with the Psalmist, "With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:104,105).

Here's a little quiz regarding the power of exposure to God's Word for longtime Bible students. Some of these verses you have purposefully memorized but in many cases you will know them because you have read and heard them quoted regularly. See how many of the following verses you can complete and extra credit if you know the reference!
  • "For God so loved..." (You better get this one!)
  • "In the beginning God..."
  • "In the beginning was..."
  • "For I know the plans..."
  • "For we know that God..."
  • "The Lord is my shepherd..."
  • "I am the way..."
  • "But you shall receive power..."
  • "My God shall supply..."
  • "For by grace..."
  • "Enter into His gates..."
  • "Behold I stand at the door..."
  • "I can do all things..."
  • "Behold what manner..."
  • "For all have sinned..."
  • "The wages of sin..."
  • "Thou art worthy..."
  • "Thou shalt have no..."
  • "Thou shalt not..."
  • "I will never leave thee..."
  • "The Lord Thy God in the midst...
  • "Do not fear for I am..."
  • "Be anxious for nothing"
Admittedly, since we share these verses by memory there is a version mix of NIV '84 & KJV.

This exposure principle also applies to the hymnal. In this case we are writing of songs we sing all through life although, with a major focus on songs newly written songs, hymns are much less familiar.

Now there are very few hymns we have ever set out to intentionally memorize, but because we have regularly sung them through the years we have learned the words to many of them. How many of you recall the page number from your hymnal of a favorite hymn of the past?

Consider the following hymns: Can you finish at least the line, if not the verse or even the entire hymn (with a few prompts) because you have sung it since childhood. Most certainly you can sing the chorus since it is repeated between each verse helping you to memorize it even more than the verses.

"Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, …"
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, …"
"Great is Thy faithfulness, …"
"Then sings my soul, …"
"Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, ..."
"What a friend we have in Jesus...."
"O for a thousand.."
"On Christ the solid..."
"It is well..."
"Joyful, joyful we adore Thee..."
"On a hill far away..."
"I am Thine O Lord..."
"All to Jesus I surrender..."
"Rock of ages..."
This is my Father's world..."
"Wonderful grace of Jesus..."

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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